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Journeys : April May 2009
Tarn Shelf Fagus on the Rodways Visitor Centre interpretation displays. So it’s no hardship at all to tap out a few hundred words to encourage fellow Tasmanians to visit (or more likely re-visit) this little gem of a national park, just a hour’s drive from Hobart. Mt Field doesn’t have the popular profile of Freycinet or the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, but it packs a lot of scenery into a compact parcel. The place is a wide-open geological textbook, with perfect examples of glaciated landforms everywhere – U-shaped valleys, cirques, hanging valleys, erratics, glacial scouring, blockstreams and moraines. It’s the location of Tasmania’s most- photographed waterfall, the sublime rainforest cascades of Russell Falls, which were protected in a reserve as early as 1885. The park’s vegetation includes mighty swamp gums, banks of scarlet waratah, rare orchids and delicate alpine wildflowers. But at this time of the year, the best reason to visit Mt Field is to see Nothofagus gunnii, Australia’s only native winter- deciduous plant, in all its golden glory. To reach it you need to take the rough gravel road through the changing forests towards Lake Dobson, 16 kilometres beyond the visitor centre. Near the end of the road, there are good stands of fagus around Lake Fenton, but if the day is clear, lace up your boots, pack your waterproofs and aim for the Tarn Shelf. From Lake Dobson, it’s about half an hour’s walk up the steep gravel road towards the Mawson ski-field. (Here’s a curious fact – in the days when this road Swamp gum, Mt Field National Park generally had a good cover of winter snow, skiers knew it as the Jeep Track. When the snowfalls stopped, the mostly- exposed gravel was somehow re-named the Ski Trail.) At the first ski club hut, the track turns right, climbing gently through snow gums to the boardwalk that threads its way out to the Tarn Shelf. Now the Rodway Range comes into view – grey ramparts of dolerite sweep down into the blanket of fagus, its red-gold- green palette dotted with darker pencil pines and splashed with grey tongues of fire-killed vegetation. The fagus will be at its best over the next few weeks, through mid-April and into early May – this year, make the most of our calm autumn weather and take a day- walk along the Tarn Shelf in the Mt Field National Park. April / May 09 65 Tourism Tasmania and Michael Walters Tourism Tasmania and Joe Shemesh
June July 2009
June July 2008